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Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson went to space. What’s next?

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Blue Origin can carry out up to two more flights for paying customers in 2021, although the company has remained firm in terms of the cost of tickets. At least one ticket has been sold to an auction this concluded last month and the winner, whose identity is unknown, agreed to win more than $ 28 million. That person was expected to fly alongside Bezos, but leaned in at the last minute citing “scheduling conflicts” and is now expected to cover his ticket later.

Virgin Galactic plans to fly one more test flight before it starts offering seats in early 2022 to about 600 people who have already bought tickets for between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000, or about the average home price in the United States. The company also accepts reservations for new tickets that are expected to sell at an even higher price.

Not to mention, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has developed much more powerful rockets capable of transporting NASA astronauts into Earth orbit for multi-day visits, is expected. first tourist mission at the end of this year. Although it has not revealed the prices, a first estimate was that these orbital expeditions would cost about $ 55 million per seat. (Musk has not announced any firm plan to travel to space, other than to say he would like to die on Mars someday).

But this is far from all those billionaires who have planned in outer space.

The great vision

For Bezos, Blue Origin’s suborbital tourism missions are just a bridge to much larger cosmic adventure ambitions. In his view, terrestrial civilizations are heading for an energy supply crisis that can only be solved by taking advantage of extraterrestrial resources. And, according to Bezos, “we really need to move heavy industry and polluting industry” (things like power generation and microchips) “off Earth”.

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“It won’t be done for the rest of my life,” Bezos said he said CNN’s Anderson Cooper. But it anticipates that Blue Origin will create new technologies that are beginning to make their way into it, such as reusable orbital rockets, such as those already operated by SpaceX. And the New Shepard suborbital vehicle that Blue Origin developed helped inform the design of a lander that could be used to support commercial operations on the Moon, such as water ice mining for rocket fuel or other deep space projects.
Bezos has also said earlier that he expects millions of people to one day live and work in space, possibly within massive space stations that rotate like the ones he proposes. Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Branson hopes his high-flying spacecraft technology can be transformed into a hypersonic point-to-point travel business, transporting passengers around the world in a fraction of the time that would take them on a more traditional commercial aircraft.

Next is Musk, whose SpaceX is already building and testing a giant rocket that he says will take the first humans to Mars and give humanity the means to establish a permanent settlement there.

The reaction

All these views have caused many setbacks, and critics denounce the tendency of billionaires to hoard wealth and taxes on skirts in the name of pursuing grandiose ambitions that do little to tackle the myriad of pressing problems facing humanity. (See: Climate change, an ongoing pandemic that has already killed millions and probably many more without proper access to vaccines, global political uncertainty, housing and homelessness crises, etc.)

Meanwhile, Branson, Bezos and Musk hope their extraterrestrial affairs will inspire a new generation of curious space explorers and entrepreneurs. And there were a lot of people cheering on Bezos and Branson during their supersonic walks of joy in the last few days. But those voices received cries of disgust for equal decibels.

The sports and culture website Defector, for example, stated that Bezos and Branson had somehow done the impossible, not building rockets that could reach the edge of space (such as NASA and other space agencies). they have been able to do since the middle of the twentieth century) – but fatally making space “little cold“The Atlantic broke a headline asking the duo loaded with money”please read the room“Tiktoks he relentlessly mocked them. Tweets accusing them of pursuing useless vanity projects accumulated more than 100,000 likes. Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonists noted that Bezos’ dream of saving the planet only came true thousands and thousands of planet-destroying trucks.
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The so-called space barons they are known to defend themselves by saying that they can work to solve terrestrial problems while pursuing their long-term goals in outer space. And their long-term goals, especially with promises that will not be fulfilled within current life, also serve to isolate them from any long-term criticism. By awarding $ 100 million to CNN contributor Van Jones and chef Jose Andrés for his courage and civility, Bezos went so far as to deny those who, instead of disagreeing with a person’s ideas. , “question their character or motives.”

But if Bezos, Branson and Musk want to save humanity, they must first convince humanity. And they will have to answer many questions about his character and motives if they want humanity to trust that the goal of these efforts is to lead him to a future survivor.

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